History and Story Behind the Bhagavad Gita Part 3

About the religious book the Bhagavad Gita, history of the famous holy book of the Hindu religion.



Sample Quote:

The disciplined man, having relinquished the fruit of action,

Attains perfect peace.

The undisciplined man, impelled by desire,

Is attached to the fruit and is bound.

(Chapter V, 12)

Its Publishing History: It is possible that the Bhagavad Gita existed independently of the Mahabharata and was made to fit into the scheme of narratives at a later time. Its appearance is estimated at between the 5th and 2nd centuries B.C. in its original version, and it was probably put into its present form around the 2nd century A.D. The original language was Sanskrit, but India is a country of many languages, so translations appeared quite early. Charles Wilkins put it into English and printed it in quarto form in 1785, and since that time it has appeared in hundreds of editions and languages, including Esperanto. English versions available in this century alone include those by poets, politicians, and professors, along with commentaries which always are much longer than the Gita itself. Hundreds of new editions in Indian languages have appeared in recent decades.

The history of commentaries is as long as the history of the Gita, the best-known commentators being Sankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva. (And if it is any testimony to the efficacy of the Gita, the latter two lived to be 120 and 118, respectively.) In this century, Mahatma Gandhi offered his interpretation of the Gita and nonattachment.

Unusual Facts: The Mahabharata. The epic in which the Gita is found, is the longest poem in the world-originally 24,000 verses and eventually 100,000.

Bengali holy man Ramakrishna found that constant repetition of the word Gita (gita-gita-gita-gita...) turned it into the word Tagi (tyagi), which means relinquishment or renunciation in Bengali.

Many customs and fetishes have arisen around the use of the Gita, as if the book had auspicious powers in its very physical form. Some people have been known to wear a miniature copy in a case around the neck.

Hindu cosmology views time in vast cycles lasting thousands of years, with phases of light and darkness in terms of spiritual progress on the planet. Our current age, the Kali Yuga (the darkest age), is said to have begun with the battle described in the Bhagavad Gita. Following this phase will be the return of the light, which is being expressed in American culture as the dawning of the Aquarian or New Age.

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